USDA says rice imports to decrease next year

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    THE United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicts the Philippines’ rice imports for 2021 will decrease to 3 million metric tons (MT), from its earlier projection of 3.3 million MT.

    The USDA in a report said the decrease was due to tighter supplies from major exporters Thailand, China and Vietnam.

    The Philippines imports around seven to 14 percent of its rice requirements with 90 percent coming from Vietnam.

    Despite the updated projection, the USDA said the Philippines will remain the world’s biggest rice importer for this year and next year.

    The country has been in the top spot since 2019 with total rice imports at 2.9 million MT to this year’s expected 2.6 million MT and next year’s projected 3 million MT.

    The report also reiterated that milled production of rice in the Philippines is estimated at 11.9 million MT for this year but may drop to 11 million MT by 2021 as consumption is seen to hit 14.3 million MT for 2020 but can reach 14.4 million MT by next year.

    The Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar assured the country will have enough rice for the rest of the year, despite the implementation of a protracted community quarantine due to COVID-19 pandemic and the flooding in China that is feared to disrupt the global rice market.

    He said at present, the Philippines has at least 53 days of rice inventory which will increase in the coming months with the harvest from the wet season palay cropping, starting late September.

    “Barring adverse typhoons and natural disasters in the remaining months of the year, we expect a record palay output this year of 20.34 million MT which is 8 percent higher than the 2019 production… Our palay sector continues to exceed expectations despite challenges and the ongoing health crisis that we are facing, including other concerns, amid these challenging times,” Dar said.

    He added all drawn up rice supply scenarios show comfortable levels of rice supply by the end of the year which at best would be good for 98 days and good for 90 days at worst.